The best middle grade books for when someone you love has Alzheimers/dementia

Shannon Wiersbitzky Author Of What Flowers Remember
By Shannon Wiersbitzky

The Books I Picked & Why

Hour of the Bees

By Lindsay Eagar

Hour of the Bees

Why this book?

Hour of the Bees is a mix of realism and fantasy, of not exactly knowing what is true versus what is imagined, which in a way, describes Alzheimer’s. Carolina and her family travel to the New Mexico desert to move her Grandfather into a home for people with memory loss. Grandpa Serge hasn’t completely lost his memory, so in some ways it is up to the reader to decide if the magical tale he tells about a tree, bees, a green-glass lake, and his dead wife Rosa is real or imagined. It is a story of love and loss, of wanting both wings and roots. 


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Forever This Summer

By Leslie C. Youngblood

Forever This Summer

Why this book?

Forever This Summer is a lovely tale about the power of a family coming together in a tough time. Georgia, her Mama, and the happenings in and around the Sweetings Family Diner are relatable. As Georgia and her Mama look to help Aunt Vie, who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, she learns her own family history. It’s a different take on the notion of memories. Aunt Vie’s memories are disappearing and being replaced by those of Georgia’s as she visits the people and places that made the women in her life who they are. 


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Sticky Notes

By Dianne Touchell

Sticky Notes

Why this book?

Sticky Notes centers on a parent who has early-onset Alzheimer’s and is told from the perspective of a 10-year-old boy, Foster. The voice is a genuine one and the writing is heartfelt, as Foster compares his own forgetting to Dad’s forgetting and sometimes convinces himself that there is no need to worry. The confusion and lack of clear discussion with Foster about what is happening is a real challenge for many dealing with the disease. As the forgetting gets worse and Dad begins to change, Touchell documents the family changes that Foster and his mother go through too, with a sensitive touch. 


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Pop

By Gordon Korman

Pop

Why this book?

This book is also from a boy’s vantage point, and with a twist, dementia that is a result of too many concussions in the game of football. When Marcus moves to a new town, he befriends Charlie, an ex-NFL’er who mistakenly believes Marcus is a college buddy. Lots of themes come together in this story; family secrecy, a desire to fit in, and even the line between right and wrong depending on the motivation. This book doesn’t shy away from tough topics, including the idea that some people, if given the choice, would choose to die rather than live with the disease. 


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The Space Between Lost and Found

By Sandy Stark-McGinnis

The Space Between Lost and Found

Why this book?

Stark-McGinnis tackles Alzheimer’s of a parent, in this case, a mother. The disease is already well-progressed as we meet Cassie; her mother has already forgotten her name. Told in the present tense interspersed with a series of flashbacks to before Cassie’s Mom had the disease, we see all that has been lost. Linking memories to math, in that each can be broken down into more finite parts, Cassie draws “memory sketches” in the hopes that connecting all the dots in Mom’s life will make her remember. It doesn’t of course, but with her father, Cassie finds a path toward acceptance. 


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